The Truth Beneath the Lies (PG-13)

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5 stars

Author: Amanda Searcy

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Publishing Date: December 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5247-0089-8

I received this novel from PageHabit’s YA Monthly subscription. Though this is a book I most likely would not have picked up on my own I am very glad that it found it’s way into my library. A beautiful novel encompassing a coming-of-age, and life’s consequences this novel took me by surprise!

Pros and Cons:

In a story, people are mostly driven forward by the plot, however, if a book has flat characters it isn’t uncommon that it’s dumped into the DNF pile. Though the characters in this book were NOT flat, I did struggle a lot with Betsy and Kayla. I’ll save that explanation for later in the review, though. Mark these two as both a pro and a con on your checklist.

One thing I noticed very early on in the novel was that Searcy really liked pointing out the dental hygiene of characters. Granted, Betsy and Kayla lived in a rough part of town full of druggies, and bad oral hygiene is usually a good sign of an addict, but it was still funny how often it came up in such a short time span. Her writing style left me highly confused initially, but I later realized this was done intentionally, and after about 100 pages you suddenly understand why.

I think one of my favorite parts of this book was that Searcy had me needing to know the truth’s behind these characters. Even in moments when I was irritated with Betsy and Kayla, where I hated them both equally, I pushed forward because I had an itch that needed to be scratched, questions that needed to be answered. I also greatly valued her ability to surprise me (as that’s a rare experience for me, especially in YA.) Searcy wrote a mystery novel with no potholes, that tied together more beautifully in the end than I could have ever hoped for.

Characters:

Betsy Hopewell and Kayla Asher are our protagonists. One of the things that both of these girls share is that they were essentially raised in foster care due to a drug-addicted mother. They also share the same attitude and mindset that irritated me for most of the book.  I am a huge supporter of women and their independence, however, with these girl’s I struggled with the constant “woe-is-me” response to them receiving help from loved ones. I understand that many people do not know how to receive gifts, and even commonly feel indebted to the gift giver. These girls, however, were just incapable of accepting a helping hand from anyone really, and eventually, this yearning for independence becomes an excuse for them to lash out at loved ones.

Even early on in the plot, Betsy admits to being a “selfish bitch.” When I initially read this I believed it was a character development tactic to show insecurity. Though in a way it was, I ultimately ended up agreeing with Betsy that she was a “selfish bitch.” Both Kayla and Betsy show little to no care for those that they hurt when they won’t accept help from those who can offer it. Everyone is depicted to have an ulterior motive and some of the nicest people in the plot are initially painted as wicked. I am very grateful that this eventually shifts, but considering this attitude remained constant for most of the book, it was highly irritating.

We also have Betsy and Kayla’s mom, who is “fragile,” considering she’s been clean for three years. Their mother is doing the best she can and in many ways is a wonderful mother – especially in the sense that she tries to reach her daughter(s) relentlessly, no matter how often she’s pushed away. I do wish that she had been portrayed a bit stronger throughout the book seeing how she’d somewhat conquered drug addiction. That’s not something that a “fragile” person is able to do and still remain fragile the entire time.

I think throughout the entire list of characters my favorite was Happy. Of course, emanating her name, she initially irked me, but the more we got to know her the more genuine I realized she was. She has her own story and background – her own emotions and baggage – but she’s beautiful and innocent. She wears her happiness like an armor and I found it admirable, to say the least.

Conclusion:

I rated this novel PG-13 for the very few curse words included, and some of the content (as it discusses PTSD-like flashbacks of the trauma and death the girls have seen.) A coming-of-age mystery novel focused on the battle of fighting one’s self, and society; death, and overcoming the odds. In many aspects, this novel was a race against the clock and I thankfully never found myself yawning using the time as an excuse to put the book down. I was initially planning to rate this novel three stars as I struggled to enjoy the plot due to my anger towards the protagonists, however, as I gathered more information, and I stumbled across plot twists the book quickly shot itself up to five stars. If you’re able to withstand an initially ungrateful and whiny lead I believe this novel will be an easy and pleasurable read for you.

 

XoXo,

Phoenix

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The Gunslinger (NC-17)

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three stars

Author: Stephen King

Publisher: Scribner

Publishing Date: June 24, 2003

Series: The Dark Tower, Volume 1

ISBN: 978-1-5011-4351-9

“New knowledge leads always to yet more awesome mysteries.” 

I first decided I wanted to read this novel because I had seen the movie “The Dark Tower” and could not wait for the sequel to release. Little did I know that The Gunslinger, book one in the Dark Tower series is NOTHING like the movie. Thanks to a bit of research and friends who have read the whole series, I found out that this was done on purpose, as the movie is a continuing of the book series.

Pros & Cons

I think one of the things that I was most impressed by in this book was King’s ability to keep my interest during this long, drawn-out desert journey with little human contact. Though the book was slow paced it wasn’t agonizingly slow, which allowed me to keep pressing through. I actually didn’t find myself struggling with turning the pages until after I was about 200 pages into the 252-page book. The end was not super climactic and resulted in a struggle to keep interest.

In addition to the pacing, I personally found that some of the dialogue was cryptic and referenced things that I didn’t always catch initially. For example, at one point there is a reference to masturbation, and yet the way it is referenced I had a “wait, is this saying what I think it is saying,” moment. Some of the struggles I faced could be due in part to my age, and in part to the fact that I’ve grown quite accustomed to the Young Adult genre, which is usually much more straightforward.

One thing that I really appreciated about this book was King’s use of accurate biblical references, and even going as far as to capitalize the “H” in Him when referring to God. Though this may seem small, as a person of faith, I appreciate the small signs of respect. I also was thankful that King was able to create a classy literary fade-to-black effect during the more sexual scenes in the book. Of course, he has a reputation to uphold, however, so he never shied away from the bloody details of grittier scenes.

I find it difficult to discuss pros and cons to this book as I feel there wasn’t much of either. The novel isn’t riddled with plot holes and didn’t leave me irrevocably confused. That being said, it also neglected to leave me with the desperation of immediately needing to read the next volume in the series, and I didn’t feel greatly moved by the story. In fact, *spoiler* I was left unmoved during the death of a character.

Characters

In this novel, our protagonist is Roland, better known as The Gunslinger. Roland isn’t very religious, as he’s more of an “ordinary pilgrim.” He is on the journey of tracking the Man in Black, which is potentially costing him his soul. We find that his morals decrease as his risktaking increases throughout the plot. He’s very mysterious throughout most of the book, and we mostly get to know him as the “dutiful, closed-off, soldier.” When he finally does begin to open up it just reveals an ungodly amount of guilt and self-loathing, though he held a secret close to his heart: he was a hopeless romantic. I will say, though, that once Jake comes into the picture Roland’s character takes a huge shift towards paternal. He’s very fatherly towards Jake which definitely gave him a softer side.

Our antagonist would be the Man in Black, known as MIB for the rest of this review. The MIB really reminded me of a Trickster, and not the sit-on-a-whoopee-cushion kind. He reminded me of the mythological gods kind of Trickster – evil and set on tormenting people for his own pleasure. The MIB also displays a lot of character traits of the “anti-christ” in his language and behavior, as he gives off a false sense of safety by allowing people to believe he’s a pastor of some kind. 

Jake, who initially starts as a supporting character develops into a main piece of the puzzle. He starts off very needy, and timid, but he quickly develops into a little soldier of his own. Having experienced some trauma at the hands of the MIB, Jake is alert and dedicated to following Roland during his tracking of the MIB. Other than being very attentive, and developing in his survival skills, I don’t feel that Jake developed much more. He continued to show whiny child-like behavior all the way unto the end – but what can you expect from an eleven-year-old?

Conclusion

I rated this novel NC-17 because it is most definitely not meant for children. As the story encounters prostitution, drugs, death, and rape, I do not feel anyone under the age of 17 should read this novel. The story as a whole is centered around some kind of holy war between good and evil, but it also has deeper undertones as it embraces some religious and philosophical ideologies. Personally, I wasn’t greatly impressed by this novel, but I am interested to see what happens in the next installment.

Quotes 

“You will not see what you do not look for, maggot. Open the gobs the gods gave ya, will ya not?”

“They’ve gone to the land of Nineteen. Whatever is there.”

“Beware the man who fakes a limp.”

 

Perfect (PG-13)

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Author: Cecelia Ahern

Publisher: Feiwell & Friends

Publishing Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-07412-6

5 stars

“A weed is just a flower growing in the wrong place.”

In this final installment of the Flawed Duology, Cecelia was able to execute a flawless dystopian tale that holds a heavy mirror up to society as we know it. It was thought-provoking, emotional, suspenseful, and a great read for a Dystopian lover. Perfect did not need to draw me in with its title, cover, or synopsis because its predecessor did all the heavy lifting in making me a devoted fan of Celestine North.

Synopsis:

Following Flawed, Celestine North has been declared public enemy number one. On the run from Judge Crevan and the Whistleblowers, she finds Carrick is the only one she can trust. Celestine holds a secret that could open the public’s eyes to the happenings behind the “Flawed” system, and make them question everything. While the government seems to be gaining an upper hand, Judge Crevan seems to be untouchable, and Celestine is losing her grip on the advantage she has she is also faced with an alarming question: Save herself or risk her life to save all Flawed people?

Pros and Cons:

Considering that this finale came out a year after the first installment was published, I was a little rusty on the details and happenings of book one going in. I was so thankful that Ahern created a strong recap that jogged my memory of who I was with, and what was going on. This allowed me to seamlessly follow the story without having to find a spoiler riddled review of Flawed to pull me back into the world Celestine is in.

One of the smaller things that Ahern included in this story was a small reference to genuine African culture on page 61. It is a reference to the way a specific tribe handles their society and citizens when they make a mistake. I found this reference beautiful and touching and was also glad to know that this information was genuine, rather than an embellishment in the story.

In this novel, there is also a moment where a fade-to-black sex scene takes place. I was happy to see that Ahern handled this scene in a very classy, beautiful and appropriate way. One thing I feel many YA authors forget is that the suggested age range for the YA genre starts at 13-years-old. They often times include scenes that are more appropriate for older YA readers, neglecting the fact that they’ve just introduced children to semi, or even fully, pornographic scenes. (*cough* ACOTAR I’m looking at you.) The way this scene was handled in Ahern’s novel is respectable and is actually less than what most teenagers see on everyday television. It was truly refreshing.

I honestly don’t feel that there were any “cons” to this novel. There were no plot holes, I didn’t find myself believing there should have been a third book, and I didn’t feel like I was swarming with questions at the end. Ahern followed Flawed with a beautifully written sequel and executed a wonderful finale. She wraps the story up in a bow and really ensures the reader has closure.

Characters:

In this novel the characters are well-written, to say the least. Celestine continues on the path of her nature in book one. She is a balance of strength and weakness, bravery, and cowardice, independence, and dependence. As the novel furthers, however, we begin to see her take more risks. She begins to step more into her role as leader, but she never fully detaches from the young girl that remains inside. The back-and-forth that may irritate some readers was quite relatable to me. I’ve never been one to rush into a decision without doubting myself, and it is far from uncommon for me to weep about my circumstances before I pick up the pieces and brave moving forward like the fierce queen that I am! I feel the same can be said for Celestine, which is why she is my favorite character.

I think my second favorite character was her Grandfather. In book one he’s painted to be a conspiracy theorist, and possibly a loon, but by book two we know that isn’t the case. He’s a man of second chances in a society that reluctantly gives one chance. A dedicated family man and an encourager, he is constantly lifting Celestine up and reminding her who she is. He made me reminiscent of my own father.

There’s also Carrick, who to put bluntly is our wounded bad-boy with a giant heart. Flawed At Birth (F.A.B) Carrick was stripped of his parents at an early age and institutionalized. He was taught to hate his parents, and that they were practically the devil himself. After the system finds him Flawed, he continues to seek out his parents. For most of the book, he continues singing the wounded bad-boy anthem, but we see more of his soft side. He becomes a well-rounded character who is compassionate and determined to save Celestine – whatever the cost.

These were the three characters who stuck out most to me, though there were plenty of others. We have our Antagonist Judge Crevan, and his son Art Crevan. I think Judge Crevan was my favorite character to watch the progression of, because the more you poked and prodded at him, the quicker he fell apart. We have Dahy, Grandad’s farmhand, Juniper, and Celestine’s Mom. There’s also Rogan, Kelly, Adam, Kate, Mr. Angelo, and Judge Sanchez. Ahern was able to include a good variety of characters that created a very realistic world.

Conclusion:

This novel explores a reality that is not far from the one we live in today. Though we are not branded with an iron, the tiniest of mistakes can completely shatter lives – and equally as discussed in this novel, it is inhumane to expect perfection. A page-turner, at the very least, this novel is a Coming of Age Dystopian focused on an individual versus society, loyalty to family, and overcoming the odds. I rated this novel PG-13, for the one fade-to-black sex scene, and the thought-provoking content. I easily gave this novel, and series 5 stars as I enjoyed both immensely and was able to tear through their fast-paced story quickly. If you’ve read this novel or would like to, I’d love to hear from you!

Favorite Quotes:

“A weed is just a flower growing in the wrong place.” – Grandad

“It can take a lifetime to build up a friendship – it can take a second to make an enemy.” – Celestine

“When it’s yourself, you can take it; when it’s happening to the people you love, it can break you.” – Celestine

“If you can’t solve a problem, then there is an easier problem you can solve: You just have to find it…” – Polya

The Paper Magician (PG-12)

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Author: Charlie N. Holmberg

Publisher: 47 North

Publishing Date: September 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1477823835

 threehalf

Synopsis:

Set in the early 1900’s we meet Ceony Twill. Ceony is a 19-year-old girl who has just graduated from Tagis Praff School for the Magically Inclined at the top of her class, and in just a year’s time. Now she is ready to move onto the apprenticeship phase of her learning. When Ceony is informed that she’s being forced into Paper Magic, rather than Metal Magic, as she’s long desired to do, she is heartbroken.

In order to begin her apprenticeship, she is carted off to Magician Emery Thane’s home, where she will live and study under him in the art of Paper Magic. Having spent her entire life believing that Paper Magic is the weakest of all magic, this is the hardest fate she’s ever had to accept. Devastate that this is to be the craft she bonds to, she holds a sharp tongue and is not interested in giving her best efforts to learn. Suddenly, when tragedy strikes Ceony is forced to use what little knowledge she has to pursue an Excisioner – a magician of blood and dark arts. In this novel, we will journey with her to save the life of a friend, discover the dangers of the world of magic, and just how powerful something so “insignificant” as Paper can be!

First Impressions/Pros & Cons:

The first thing that drew me to this book was definitely the cover. I honestly never even read the synopsis until the night I decided to start reading it. Between a stunning cover and a unique title, I was immediately drawn in.

Usually I would start off by talking about all the good things about this book, however, considering how I just mentioned the synopsis, let me suggest to you this: DO NOT READ THE SYNOPSIS. There are TWO spoilers within the synopsis alone, that though they do not monumentally change the experience you have with the book, they did radically alter my ability to enjoy this novel considering I was horribly angry for the first half of the book as I was awaiting said spoilers to come up in the plot. This is something that was extremely irritating for me because I personally believe I would have enjoyed this novel, even more, had I not known about the two spoilers that are mentioned in the synopsis on the back of the book.

Moving on from that, though, there were definitely things about this novel that I enjoyed and felt set it apart. I’d say the first 50%-75% of this novel is paced as if you are strolling through a park. It’s pleasant, and you find it refreshing even. The only problem with a novel paced like this, though, is that periodically the sun would beat down on me and I’d get the itch to find shade. What I mean by that is this: the “strolling” pace is refreshing, but occasionally I’d find myself dying for it to pick up, and so rather than needing to know what happens next, I would be very comfortable putting the book down for the night. This isn’t a bad feature to have, but I will say if you are a highly impatient reader who needs constant stimulation and action, this is not the book for you.

Another thing that I did enjoy in this book was that at one point it is mentioned that Ceony attended Tagis Praff on a scholarship of 15,000 pounds. Now, of course, this sounded expensive, but I was thinking in modern day times. She even discusses a stipend with Magician Thane and he says she’ll receive 10 pounds a month. I initially was appalled, but in the novel she was thrilled. I was very confused, so I sat down and calculated what that would equal for the time period. Ceony’s 15,000-pound scholarship would actually equal just over $73,000 in today’s economy because in the early 1900’s a single pound was equivalent to $4.87. Her stipend added up to about $50 per month. I enjoyed getting a better grasp on this aspect of the book and am grateful the author included enough information for me to be able to come to these conclusions!

Characters:

Our protagonist is Ceony Twill, and she is the only POV we have in this novel. Ceony starts off very coarse towards everyone she interacts with. In the few moments we see her with her prior teacher Magician Aviosky at the beginning of the novel, she is regularly reprimanded and scolded for her manners – or lack thereof. She is a spirited redhead that is essentially lashing out and throwing a tantrum. That being said, however, when Ceony discovers some key information about who Magician Thane is, and why she’s been forced to be a “Folder,” she soon decides her attitude must change. She continues to be witty and playfully argumentative, however, she begins to adopt a grateful attitude, and is even looking for ways to show this in her behavior. Aside from the tantrum at the beginning, Ceony is actually quite mature. She is driven, and dedicated to learning and bettering herself. She was a strong female lead, and she was a character I enjoyed getting to know.

Her teacher, Magician Emery Thane, is a bit harder to describe. Though we get some very deep insights into him later in the book, I can’t really discuss them without spoiling anything for you – so I won’t. What I can discuss is what we see during our surface interactions. Emery Thane is a bit of an oddball, and he has a very average appearance, aside from his striking eyes. He is a teacher at his core, so much so that I would truly describe it to be part of his personality. He thinks before he speaks, he’s slightly mysterious at times, and is extremely considerate. I love that he treats Ceony with respect and that he encourages her to be independent. Despite being the early 1900’s he doesn’t demand the usual “womanly” behavior that we are used to seeing in that time period. They coexist well, and I really loved that!

We have our villain in the story, who I am choosing not to name or address, and lastly, we have our sidekick, Fennel. Fennel is the perfect sidekick for any story and I spent the entire novel just wanting more and more of him. He’s interactive, playful, and fits so beautifully into the puzzle piece of this plot!

Conclusion:

The Paper Magician is a “strolling” paced novel, with some incredibly deep underlying symbolism. It deals with Love, Loss, Magic, & Sacrifice. It encompasses a battle against one’s self and against a very real enemy, and also deals with betrayal. The characters are well written and relatable. I found myself pushing through Holmberg’s incredibly detailed descriptions just to get to the next verbal interaction. I rated this book “PG-12” because of the one time use of the word “whore,” and some heavily described scenes involving blood. If it weren’t for those things, I don’t see why an advanced middle-grade reader couldn’t enjoy this novel. Overall I would rate this novel 3.5/5 stars seeing how I personally wish it had been paced just a bit faster. That alone falls onto my personal preference, though. If you don’t mind a slow-paced fantasy, with a very interesting take on the world of magic, then this is definitely the book for you! I’m looking forward to reading the second book, The Glass Magician.

Favorite Quotes:

“Perhaps the man wasn’t so mad after all. Or maybe it’s a madness that I can learn to appreciate.” – Ceony

“Never dismiss the value of entertainment, Ceony. Good-quality entertainment is never free, and it’s something everyone wants.” – Magician Thane

“What Mg. Thane was teaching her had started to weasel its way into that part of her that wanted to know.” – Ceony

“How many others had she judged and set aside like that, thinking them no more than a one-sided piece of paper?” – Ceony

GrishaVerse Trilogy (Pg-15)

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  1. Shadow & Bone 5 stars (5/5)
  2. Siege & Storm threehalf (3.5/5)
  3. Ruin & Rising 5 stars(5/5)

First Impressions/Pros and Cons:

I was first drawn into this series by the cover art, and before long the synopsis backed up the beauty of the cover. I was really eager to read this Fantasy based in Russia and around Russian culture!

In the first book, Bardugo grabbed me by my hand and pulled me through the book. I was constantly turning pages without even keeping track. I was dying for interaction between Mal and Alina, and then I was dying for more of The Darkling. Each page had another reason that pulled me deeper into the story of the Grisha. I found myself mesmerized by the Grisha and their powers, and was eager to keep track of the different color kefta’s, and the different powers of the Grisha. This book really established the world we were in, and the society that we faced.

In the beginning of the second book, I was happy to have more time with Mal and Alina, but the story continued at a very slow pace for me. The thing that pulled me through this novel was the interaction with the characters. I fell in love with Nikolai from very early on, and even Tolya and Tamar. When I got bored by the “details” I would hang on just to catch the banter between characters. After about 250 pages, the book finally grabbed me like a whirlwind and I finished it in one sitting. Book two, though it was slow, was designed mostly to see huge steps in character development, and to deepen the plot with strategy and detail. Bardugo waited until the very end, however, to pull you back into the main focus of the story.

The final book in the trilogy acted as a tornado for me. I was quickly swept up and carried away, just as I had been with book one. I was actually so focused on reading – eager to find out what happens – that I didn’t get to take as many notes as I would have liked to. Throughout the entire series I, personally, didn’t feel like there were any huge plot holes. Yes, there were some holes in the driving force behind some of the characters, but they were explained away by an unearthly calling, drawn to the forces uncontrollably. I did, however, find myself extremely irked with the fact that the first portion of this book is spent in a damp underground. Realistically, everyone would have gotten violently sick with Pneumonia, and other disease born from wet environments. Though this didn’t happen AT ALL, I guess I just have to remember this book is a fantasy, so maybe they don’t get sick like normal people?

All in all, Bardugo has well-placed plot twists, keeps you on your toes in the romance department, and creates characters that have realistic emotions and thought processes that I find makes them very relatable.

Characters:

Now it’s time to talk about the very creatures who bring a book to life. Our protagonist, Alina Starkov, starts off timid. She is shy, easily emotional, and unsuccessful in life. She, as a person, is mediocre. There is no grandeur about her. She is not fiercely beautiful, incredibly intelligent, or even an above average map-maker. Starting off with someone who is so close to nothing really gives a character TONS of room to grow, and she did. By book two we see her come out of the “timid, woe-is-me, victim mentality” a bit. She begins to stuff her emotions down and swallow the heavy pills as they come. By the end of book two, she begins to accept her “calling.” Once we reach book 3, she’s forced to face what she is, and what she must be. She steps away from the character she once was, and we begin to see her blossom as a ruthless leader. The question lying beneath that is, is that a good or a bad thing?

Next, we have Mal, who by general consensus is not a favorite of many. In book one Mal starts off blind, and cocky. He was impervious to seeing what was right in front of him, and that was really quite painful to watch. He was your stereotypical “Player.” He loved the ladies, he loved his friends, and he loved to drink. By the end of book one, things had taken a shift. Suddenly the blinders came off, and he realized what he was missing. He became less jovial and careless, which is to be expected after a trauma or tragedy. Book two started off with him determined to no longer take life for granted, however, after a series of events he began to revert back to old behaviors. This was painstakingly annoying and made me hate him for a while. At the beginning of book three he was back to living a life of devotion, but before long he’d begun to come to terms with his decision to put the blinders back on. By the end of the series, despite the constant back-and-forth drama, he’d taken his fair share of losses (including finally losing the blinders) and he sets off on a lifetime journey of being worthy of the gift he has.

The Darkling, oh what words I have for him. When we meet him in book one he starts off as very cold and distant. He seems calculated and acts as one might expect a noble to act. Along the way, he becomes this fiercely sexy, kind, and charming being whom I think everyone wanted a piece of. Raise your hand if you wanted to take Alina’s place in book one. *Jabs hand in air violently* By the end of book one we begin to see other sides of his character that are cold, and callous. He is goal-oriented and unafraid of taking any actions necessary to meet this goal. In book two I began to question if he had succumbed to the thing that destroys us all – love. He remains cold and callous throughout the rest of book two. After we reach the halfway mark in book two, and most prominently in book three, we see heavy chips in his armor. The facade begins to break and we get a glimpse of the softer sides of the Darkling.

Each character in this book – Nikolai, David, Tolya, Tamar, Sergei, Nadia, Baghra, Zoya, etc – develops beautifully throughout. We see progressions in personality, the revealing of secrets, flaws in them as a person, their strengths, and weaknesses. Personally, I think my favorite character was Nikolai because he was witty, sarcastic, had the spirit animal of a peacock, and the resilience of a born leader.

Conclusion:

This Russian Folk Fantasy has ravaged my heart and made me a home in Ravka. With a battle of self vs. society, good vs. evil, and love conquers all this novel will take you on a journey of light versus the darkness. Personally, I would rate this series 4.5/5, and would most definitely recommend to a friend. I would have been happy to give it a five-star rating had book two not been so slow initially. With some sexual scenes, and vivid depictions of death and war, personally, I wouldn’t suggest this series for anyone under the age of 15. I hope you enjoy(ed) this series as much as I did, and I would love to hear your thoughts!

Favorite Quotes:

“The problem with wanting is that it makes us weak.” – The Darkling

“The moment our lips met, I knew with pure and piercing certainty that I would have waited for him forever.” – Alina

“Why can a Grisha possess but one amplifier? I will answer this question instead: What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.” – The Darkling
“People, particularly big men carrying big rifles, don’t expect lip from a scrawny thing like me. They always look a bit dazed when they get it.” – Alina
“There’s nothing wrong with being a lizard either, unless you were born to be a Hawk.”
– Baghra
“When people say impossible, they usually mean improbable.” – Sturmhond
“The less you say, the more weight your words will carry.” – Nikolai
“What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.” – Morozova
“I might not be a threat, but I could become one.” – Alina
“Saints, Alina. I hope you weren’t looking to me to be the voice of reason. I keep to a strict diet of ill-advised enthusiasm and heartfelt regret.” – Nikolai

 

Haven (PG-16)

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Author: Mary Lindsey

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Publishing Date: November 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63375-883-4

four-stars

“We all hold a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.” 

Let’s start this review off with a bit of a disclaimer: If you’re looking for an interesting and deep retelling of Beauty and the Beast, this book is NOT for you. If you are, however, interested in horny shape-shifting teens, a small cult-like town, centuries-old magic, and somewhat stereotypical characters, all of which have a lot of deeper underlying meanings and symbolism, then you’ll enjoy this book! Now, let me spend the rest of this review elaborating on that because though it may not seem like it from the first snippet of my review, I actually liked this book!

First Impressions/Pros and Cons:

The first thing that drew me to this book was the caption on the cover which read “Sometimes beauty is the beast…” Whoa! What? This instantly peaked my curiosity. The synopsis just continued to reel me in after that. The book features a murder mystery that had me somewhat guessing until the end. I’d say I figured it out about 75% through the novel, but that didn’t stop Lindsey from placing other plot twists that I hadn’t been expecting. I love how she hinted at certain details vaguely in the beginning of the book and would come full circle many chapters later and clear up my suspicions. I loved her writing style, too, seeing how I read most of the book in one sitting! She definitely created a page-turner.

I think the only thing I didn’t like about this novel was the steamy scenes. Don’t get me wrong, they were well written, and had me craving more – but personally, I don’t like to indulge in those kinds of reads. I’m quite fine being held in suspense for 80% of the book and then they finally have a super passionate kiss! That is satisfying to me anyway. This book included much more than a single passionate kiss…

I also didn’t like that Rain constantly sexualized Freddie. I understand that this was his first experience with his feelings and his hormones, but it felt like at times he couldn’t express his love for her without also making it clear that he wanted her sexually, too. Don’t get me wrong, Freddie is no saint, and definitely did not make it any easier on him with the way she teased him or the times she outright came onto him, but I still didn’t like the behavior on either end.

Characters:

In this novel we have at least a dozen characters that we meet, but we really only intricately see the development of half of them. We have Rain Ryland, our main protagonist. Aaron “Rain” Ryland is an outcast who grew up on the streets of New York, passing from shelter to shelter with his mom. Standing at 6-foot tall and built like a linebacker, most people wrote him off just from intimidation alone, but if they got hold of his record, it would fair much worse. Having spent time in juvie, and regularly removed from school due to fighting Rain has just never had somewhere to call “home” consistently.

After Rain’s mom dies, however, Rain is sent to live with his Aunt Ruby in New Wurzburg where he meets Freddie Burkhart. Freddie isn’t your normal high school girl, though, and we can kind of sense this even from the description of her eyes. Freddie is rude when we first meet her, and we see that she had a 50 ft wall encircling her keeping everyone at a distance. Having lived on the streets for so long, Rain has an innate sense of danger, and he can tell that Freddie is truly in danger. As the two get closer, Freddie is constantly warning him to stay away, but Rain has always been a troublemaker, and really doesn’t know how to follow rules.

One thing that I really loved about Rain’s character is that even though he has this tough exterior, and he’s your stereotypical “ready-for-a-fight-not-scared-of-anything” kind of guy, he has this HUGE heart. He truly wants to see people succeed, and for their well-being. He constantly had little moments with other characters that made my heart melt. He even had a ‘moment’ with the “freak” in the book that made me swoon! Freddie, on the other hand, was different. Her focus was on putting forth this facade of strength and confidence no matter how much she actually just felt like breaking inside. Freddie was “guarded and clearly carrying a lot of baggage she wasn’t ready to unpack.” She was a tough girl by necessity, not by choice.

Thomas, Kurt, and Merrick irritated me throughout most of the book – especially once I found out they were Freddie’s cousins. Though their behavior was like any “typical” high school guy, it didn’t make me want to punch them in the mouth any less. They acted like animals most of the time, which wasn’t far off from the truth. Eventually, I did begin to warm up towards Kurt and Merrick, and at the end I understood Thomas.

Conclusion/Theme

This book essentially is a “Supernatural Romantic Mystery,” with shape-shifting people, horny teens, and an unsolved murder. Personally, the romantic scenes were a bit much for my taste (I don’t like romances,) but that didn’t mean that I wasn’t dying for more of it each time it came up. I honestly feel like between the language in the book, the sexual tension, and “hot” scenes in the book that this novel isn’t appropriate for anyone under 16 years old. I’d give this novel a 4-star rating because it most definitely kept me interested throughout, and was a unique spin on “Beauty and the Beast” with role reversal!

Favorite Quotes:

“Time had simply been a bookmark. Something that held his place while he waited to finish the story.”

“I’m not afraid of dying. I’m afraid of dying for nothing.”

“Fate was a heartless bitch.”

“I believe we all hide a beast inside. The only difference is what form it takes when freed.”

Shadow and Bone (PG-15)

10194157

5 stars

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Square Fish / Henry Holt & Company

Publishing Date: June 5, 2012

ISBN: 9780805094596

Synopsis:

Ravka is a nation torn by a veil of darkness, the Shadow Fold, teeming with monstrous creatures who feast on humans. We meet Alina Starkov, initially someone who seems to be good for nothing. Alina serves in the First Army as a less-than-talented Mapmaker, where she feels overshadowed by her best friend, Mal, who grew up with her in the orphanage Keramzin. When she and her regiment are under attack while crossing through the Fold, a power she did not know existed is awakened within her. Before Alina has a chance to even realize what has happened she was whisked away to the Little Palace to be trained as a Grisha. The Grisha are a group of magically elite people, who use science, and small amounts of magic to shift the way the world works. Lead by The Darkling, the Grisha are used to serve the King and the country with their unique powers. With this newly found power, Alina has to face the facts of everything she has ever known, and everything she is coming to know. Secrets exist within both the new and old, and a decision is to be made that will forever alter the nation.

First Impressions:

The cover is beautiful, and it definitely drew me into the novel more. The first I’d ever heard of this novel was through Bookstagram, which is ultimately how it ended up on my TBR. The things I had read and heard from other readers really enticed me into this series, though I would have ended up picking it up eventually considering how stunning the cover artwork is.

Pros

I definitely felt like this novel was well written. It is a Russian Folklore with a touch of a Dystopian feel. It was paced so well that I found myself turning the pages without even bothering to check page count. I read this novel in a single day, and I very rarely do that. The novel keeps your attention all the way through. Bardugo did a great job with her use of Russian words to keep the cultural part accurate, and I loved that, as well. Her use of color-coding the Keftas was extremely helpful and creative in the novel. I really tried to narrow in and focus on what each color represented early on, and ultimately I was glad that I did.

Cons

I don’t really feel like there were any cons to this novel. I will say, however, that I wished the “Before” chapter had been a little longer and had more detail as it was the intro to the book and left me initially confused.  Also, though this novel is “dark” and definitely has a clear representation of good vs. evil, it did have a stereotypical “YA romance” feel throughout. It was portrayed well and kept my attention, but for those who are looking for high fantasy with little to no romance, this would not be the book for you. Romance definitely isn’t the focus of the plot, but it is used heavily throughout, so just bear that in mind.

Character Development:

The characters in this novel were so well-written. They developed with their own personalities, thoughts, and emotions, and that’s really what made the plot twist in this book work so well! I think my favorite development to watch was the protagonist, as she starts off weak, feeble, and insecure. I also thoroughly enjoyed the development of The Darkling. I can’t go into too much detail about either of these characters without spoiling the fun of the novel, so I’ll just leave it vague. Alina reminded me of a bird with a broken wing, she just needed time to heal before she could fly. The Darkling is mysterious and sexy, though I remember specifically thinking during reading “for someone his age, his emotions sure are very raw and easily touched.”
We also have Mal, Alina’s best friend from the orphanage. Mal irritated me for most of the book seeing as he was the greatest tracker in all of Ravka, yet he was completely oblivious to what was right in front of him. He could track an animal or person for hundreds of miles from a snapped twig, or a footprint, but with his nose so close to the ground he forgot to look at eye level.
During Alina’s time at the Little Palace, we meet other characters, Grisha characters, and here’s where I got to have some fun! Genya was a favorite of mine as she is the kind of person I could get lost in conversation with for hours. I’d envy her beauty eternally, but her personality really resonated with me, I WANTED to be Genya’s friend. We also met Nadia and Marie, who were probably the most annoying characters to me. I honestly have no idea how Alina put up with them, ever, considering how two-faced they were. The Little Palace reminded me of high school, to be honest.
If it’s like high school, where’s the popular “mean girl,” you ask? Meet Zoya, the bitch I couldn’t wait to see get taken down. Honestly, if it were up to me I would have killed her off quickly. She is every freshman girl’s nightmare, and that’s portrayed really well within the book.  Within high school we also have teachers, so where would we be without Baghra? She was that teacher who made you feel stupid every single time you failed, she stripped you of your confidence, and of everything you had and left you feeling completely naked no matter how many layers of clothes you had on. Following Baghra, we also had her martial arts teacher, he was one of my favorites, Botkin. Botkin was similar to Baghra in that he relentlessly tore Alina down, but when she did succeed he would give her small bits of praise to bring forth hope in her heart. He also happened to defend Alina from another student later on, and this is how he warranted my favoritism!

Theme & Conclusion:

A Russian Folklore Dystopian of good vs. evil, with a heavy focus on the battle of being ones own enemy, this novel touches on so many different themes. A taste of coming-of-age, a dash of self-discovery, and a hint of war, Bardugo really includes so many elements into her novel that you can’t fathom putting it down. I rated this novel a PG-15 for the, at times, graphic violence and deaths, along with the sexual suspense, and so on. Call me old school, but I wouldn’t want my 13 year old reading about make out sessions and things indicative of sex taking place later on. I rated this book 5 stars because it kept me going for hours on end with no ability to put the book down longer than a quick potty break. I would definitely recommend this novel to MANY people.

Favorite Quotes:

“The problem with wanting,” he whispered, his mouth trailing along my jaw until it hovered over my lips, “is that it makes us weak.” – The Darkling

“The moment our lips met, I knew with pure and piercing certainty that I would have waited for him forever.” – Alina

“Why can a Grisha possess but one amplifier? I will answer this question instead: What is infinite? The universe and the greed of men.” – The Darkling
“People, particularly big men carrying big rifles, don’t expect lip from a scrawny thing like me. They always look a bit dazed when they get it.” – Alina
“There’s nothing wrong with being a lizard either, unless you were born to be a Hawk.”
– Baghra

Last Burning Star (PG-13)

28797211

four-and-a-half-stars

Author: Caitlin Sangster

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Publishing Date: October 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8613-2

Synopsis

This Chinese-Cultured Dystopian is set in a war-ravaged world where a society is trying to survive. With a set of castes to keep things organized, we have Firsts through Fourths. Firsts are those who are considered wise, they are our scientists of the lot. Seconds are those who carry the guns and protect the city, they are our soldiers. Thirds are our hard laborers, those who keep the city running by creating and packaging everything, they are our poverty-stricken slaves. Lastly, we have Fourths, and these are deemed the lowliest of the low. They are or are affiliated with political traitors and are viewed as untrustworthy by the entire society.
Our Protagonist, Jiang Sev, is a Fourth, who is being reconstructed into society through the teaching of a Second family. It is their job to rehabilitate her, regardless of the fact that society will never accept a Fourth. Daughter of a woman who betrayed the nation, and purposefully gave her the disease that started the war, (SS/Sleeping Sickness/Encephalitis Lethargica) Sev is branded as a criminal and made to do hard labor.
When chaos strikes the city Sev is faced with having to flee for her life. She meets many people along the way but by the end, the question is: What is true, and what is not?

First Impressions/Plot Thoughts:

I received this novel from PageHabit’s YA Subscription box, and to be honest, I don’t know that I would have picked it up by myself. I say this because the cover gives the impression that it’s a different culture, and I would not have thought “Dystopian” by looking at it. I more so would have thought an action-and-adventure kind of read, which is not on the top of my list to grab. The first thing that drew me to this book was, most definitely, the synopsis. Once I realized it had a Dystopian feel, I was very excited.

Pros

I think there were several pros to this novel, for sure. My favorite thing by far was Sangster’s use of cultural lore, like the star who fell in love with a man but had a vengeful father who separated them! Those details add such flavor to a book. Additionally, I really loved the names. Though I struggled with them initially, her use of the hyphens made reading much easier. I also love that she stuck with culturally accurate names. I also loved the way she built her characters, and ultimately that ended up playing a HUGE roll in the plot. (Even more so than usual for a Dystopian)

Cons

One of the things that I really didn’t like about this book was the fact that it was very hard for me to get into intially. I kind of felt thrust into this foreign world with ZERO understanding and I think it just left my head spinning until about 3 and a half chapters in. Ultimately I would have preferred a better intro to the novel. I also found myself bored by a few sections that had uneccessary detail, though I’ll fully admit this was closer to the end and I really just wanted to skim so I could get back to the action.

Character Development

The characters in this book are developed so beautifully! I was so happy that our protagonist faced real challenges, but had realistic responses. With Dystopians I feel we often get cookie-cutter characters, but in this one, we didn’t. Jiang Sev continued to develop from the very beginning and had a development (even to the end) that left me satisfied, versus being angry at the irrational progression.
Specific characters had these unique features that really brought them to life. Sev was a broken young-lady who wanted nothing more than to be loved and to fit in in the beginning. She was focused on Tai-ge, the son of General Hong, the head of the Second Family responsible for her rehabilitation. She was angry and confused, dealing with inner turmoil and conflict. Tai-ge, I felt was well described in the beginning, but began to fall flat further into the story, and then didn’t begin to develop right until the very end – which in some aspects makes sense. Then we have Howl, a charming and witty young man with a light-hearted way of inflating his ego. He was a pleasure to read through so much of the book! Most of the characters in this novel were broken, paranoid, and angry. I don’t think there’s much more to be expected from a post-war/current-war world.
Sangster still managed, however, to create unique personalities for each character, and that made the journey so much better.
Personally, when reading this novel I found my own heart hurting for Jiang Sev. My heart hurt for the loss of her Mother, for the loss of her childhood (she was branded as a criminal by the age of 8), for a love that was lost due to duty, and more. Tai-ge had me irritated more than anything else, because it was so obvious that he loved Sev, and I wanted him to betray his duty for that! What can I say? I’m a sucker for romance! (Which is why I won’t read novels that are focused on Romance.) With Howl, I spent most of the book battling who I loved more, and who I wanted Sev with. It was a shipping game for most of the novel, and even in the end, part of me was still torn.

Theme & Conclusion:

In this novel, we read a coming-of-age Dystopian, riddled with love and suffering, and the question of if their progress is real or an illusion. I rated this novel PG-13, mostly because I found it similar to the Hunger Games, but it had far fewer “adult” topics. Death happens, but not in a gory manner. There’s gentle physical contact at points, but nothing sexual that would surpass what’s seen in a nationwide commercial. Overall, I gave this novel 4.5 Stars and I would definitely recommend it to a friend. I would have rated it 5 stars, however, the initial struggle to be pulled into the story made it a tougher read. I am so not ready to wait an entire year before Book 2 in this series is released.

A Darker Shade of Magic (PG-13)

ADSOM

5 stars

Author: V. E. Schwab

Publisher: Tor Publishing

Publishing Date: February 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7646-6

The Why Behind the Read:

A Darker Shade of Magic has been on my TBR for who knows how long. I withheld myself from buying it for ages, though, because I’m a bargain hunter, and typically only purchase from outlet stores, or library sales. Basically, this book just never came across my path, until one day it ended up at my front door, courtesy of Jess (@certified_fangirl63), as a birthday gift! I started the book the same day because Jess had been hyping me up about it for a couple of weeks, as it is her favorite book. At this point, I’d already fallen in love with the idea of a Fantasy that spans four different worlds and is traveled through by a blood magician. Essentially, I have Jess to thank for radically impacting my reading world with this novel.

Pros:

I think some of the key things that made this novel great was Schwab’s ability to create four distinguishable worlds, that in many ways were identical, and in many others, couldn’t be further apart. The detail work that was put into bringing each world to life was creative and ingenious, and I didn’t struggle in the least imagining them due to the wonderful images she painted for me. I also found myself ever grateful for her ability to include backstory throughout the novel, without making it feel as if she had written an entire novella within the novel to explain what had taken place. I never felt confused at any point, and her story left me with no plot holes.

Cons:

Though the plot itself left me with no confusion, I am confused as to how there is a second and third book. ADSOM (A Darker Shade of Magic) was wrapped up so beautifully, I’m somewhat surprised it isn’t a standalone. That’s not to say that I’m not going to pick up book two as soon as I’m done writing this review, however. Considering it’s already 3am, we can pretty much rule out sleep for me tonight. My only hope is that the sequel is just as good, if not better than its predecessor.

Characters & Development:

Throughout this novel, I felt that Schwab did an incredible job bringing her characters to life, and allowing us to genuinely see growth and change in them. In other books I’ve read the author often times struggles with feeling as if the changes in their characters was evident enough, causing them to induce too much change, too quickly. Unlike those authors, Schwab leaves just a teasing taste of change, and that’s enough to keep me satisfied, without feeling as if the character at the beginning of the book, is an entirely different person by the end of the book.

Each character had unique traits that drew me into wanting to know them more. Kell is the first character we meet, so it’s only fitting to start with him. In the beginning of the novel he comes across as a “rogue, bad boy type,” but before long we get to peak at his kind heart, and at his woundedness. It gives us a look at his flawed attributes as a spoiled young man, but also insight into his heart of gold. This makes it much more satisfying when he’s forced to take a look at himself later in the book. Then we’ve got Rhy, and Rhy is the kind of guy who craves attention, no different than many a young Prince, I’d guess. He’s flirtatious and assumes everything is his for the taking, but soon life lessons will teach him otherwise.

Both Kell and Rhy are from Red London, but when we take a trip over to White London, we meet much crueler characters. Holland is reserved and to himself, bound to his duty and to the Danes. There’s not much I can really say about Holland without mentioning spoilers, so we’ll move along. Alongside Holland, we meet the rulers of White London, Athos, and Astrid Dane. Astrid is seductive and cunning, she is ruthless and pompous. Her personality reminds me very much of a Peacock. Athos Dane, similar to his sister is also ruthless, but he takes it much further because Athos Dane is a Sadist. He is power hungry, and happy to cut down anyone and anything in order to remain ruler of White London, alongside Astrid.

Lastly, in a world stricken of color, we meet Lila Bard, and Baron in Grey London. Lila is by far my favorite, so I’ll save her for last. Baron has a piece of my heart, as he is kind and watchful over Lila. Unlike anything she’s ever known, he is the closest thing to a Father she’s ever had, and though she constantly disrespects him, he continues to love her anyway. Lastly, we have Lila, and Lila reminds me so very much of a grittier version of Alice from Alice in Wonderland. Lila is prideful, insecure, paranoid, and a thief. She is starving for an adventure, for a one way ticket away from the only life she’s ever known, and it places her very near to my heart. She is ruthless, brilliant, and a survivor, and to me, that makes her the most beautiful character within the entire book.

My Relationship With The Characters:

While reading this novel I found myself experiencing different emotions with each character. With Kell I wanted him to value what he had, I wanted to see him grow as an individual and become grateful for what he had. With what little journey I had with Rhy, I wanted him to grow up, to be the young prince who would one day wear the crown, rather than being something like a partying frat boy. Moving along, the only thing that I felt towards the Danes was hatred, and I happily dreamt of their death from the moment I met them. Alongside those two, I felt a heavy mix of pity, and frustration towards Holland. There were things about him that I understood, and then things that I felt didn’t have to be as they were. Lastly, my entire time spent with Lila, I found myself admiring her. I admire her strength and audacity. I admire the fact that no person, thing, or even world, was going to hold her back. Full of fire and passion, Lila will make you want to start a rebellion, and go on an adventure.

Conclusion:

In this novel of good vs. evil, of humanity vs. nature (nature being magic), and of an individual vs. society, I found I was constantly kept on my toes! Much like Kell felt the pull of his Antari magic, this book kept pulling me in for more. I rated this novel PG-13 because of the (at-times) graphic violence, and the periodic sexual tension used in the plot. This is one of the best books I have read in a while, and I’m glad to have stumbled into it, all thanks to a wonderfully well-read friend!

Favorite Quotes:

“Magic made things simple. Sometimes, Kell thought, it made things too simple.” – Kell

“Looking for trouble,” [Baron] would say, “You’re gonna look till you find it.” “Trouble is the looker,” [Lila] would answer, “It keeps looking till it finds you. Might as well find it first.” – Lila & Baron

“He knew above all that defiance was like a weed, something to be ripped out at the roots.” – Athos Dane

“A life worth having is a life worth taking.” – Lila Bard

“Hesitation is the death of advantage.” – Holland

“I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.” – Lila Bard

“Love doesn’t keep us from freezing to death, Kell, or starving, or being knifed for the coins in our pocket. Love doesn’t buy us anything, so be glad for what you have and who you have because you may want for thing, but you need for nothing.” – Lila Bard

“Or perhaps I will go with you to the end of the world. After all, you’ve made me curious.” – Lila Bard

“The ones who think they’re ready always end up dead.” – Lila Bard

Artemis Fowl (PG – 10)

artemis fowl

four-stars

Author: Eoin Colfer

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Publishing Date: June 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-142318001-2

I decided to pick up this novel because I’ve recently found myself drawn to middle-grade reads, and the cover seemed very interesting! It had a pre-teen double O-7 feel to it. Once I read the synopsis, the idea of a 12-year-old genius villain really enthralled me, and when they mentioned the kidnapping of a fairy, my interest had peaked.

One of the things that really made this novel great for me was the amount of detail Colfer used when writing. The images were painted very clearly in my head, and I could honestly see everything. Now, everyone knows that little things go a long way in novels, and one of Colfer’s strengths is his use of police jargon. I really loved the banter, and the use of terms that I grew up hearing in all of the police shows that I watched. Colfer was also careful to explain why things worked a certain way in Fowl’s world (i.e. the use of a Butler, etc)

Though I enjoyed much of the novel, I did find myself cringing at certain parts, and questioning who would someone cast this as a “middle-grade read,” which is defined as ages 8-12 years old and is intended to have appropriate content for the said age range. Personally, I think this book is inappropriate for anyone under the age of 10. There is “graphic” violence, grossly depicted use of excrement, and other things that make this book seem as if its target audience was 10 to 12-year-old boys. Add in a few minor curse words, and some innuendos to even more curse words, and you’ve got a novel that’s better suited for the Young Adult genre. Parts of the novel did feel drug out, as well, leaving me to push through and force myself to keep reading at times. I have heard from many people, however, that the second book in this series picks up in pace and makes it much easier to read.

On the bright side, though, Colfer writes his characters beautifully! The characters inside this novel were well-developed and well-rounded. None of them felt flat or ignored. One character, in particular, Mulch Diggums, didn’t receive a lot of development, but I honestly believe that’s because he didn’t get a lot of “face-time” in the book. With the little interaction that I had with him, I was disgusted the entire time, you’ll understand once you read it for yourslef. We also meet one Captain Holly Short, who experiences several different phases of emotions and thought processes throughout the novel, and the shifts in these emotions and thought processes are placed perfectly. She has her fair share of flaws in the beginning, with being lazy, and she starts with a victim mentality. Eventually, once she understands why her superior is a bit harder towards her than he is to anyone else, she realizes she needs to step up to the plate and become a responsible LEP-Recon officer. There’s also Captain Root, your stereotypical hot-headed officer, who is old-fashioned and set in his ways, but by the end of the novel, even he begins to soften, and it’s quite a beautiful site. Lastly, from the “good-guy” side, we have Foaly. Foaly is a paranoid Centaur and is your go-to if you need a joke, some sarcasm, or some form of humorous harassment. He’s brilliant and knows his way around the technological world as if he himself created it all, (and in some ways he did). Between his brains and his humor, he’s easily my favorite character.

Over on the “dark side”, we meet Butler, an immovable man-servant/assassin, and though he has a hard exterior, he has cracks in his armor. We get to see that above all duties, family comes first for him and that honestly warms my heart. Butler has a sister, Juliet, who throughout the entire novel, she pretty much remains innocent. There’s little character development on her end, but she primarily remains a “supporting” character. Along with the innocence of Juliet, we also have Mrs. Fowl, who, since the loss of her husband, has retreated into the shell of her mind, presenting behaviors similar to bipolar dementia. Lastly, we have the infamous Artemis Fowl, who is pretty much evil to his core. Between his witty comments and evil deeds, we do see moments where the “evil-genius” mask slips and we see that he’s still a 12-year-old boy. Colfer did a great job ensuring that we get to know each character on a personal level.

I spent a lot of time laughing with the characters in this book, a lot of time frustrated with Artemis, and the adults in his life, and I spent a lot of time determined to reach the end so that I could get to book two. My journey with Captain Short had me wanting to sit down and have a serious conversation with her about her poor behavior initially, and then towards the end, I developed some respect for her and found myself admiring her as an officer. My time with Captain Root honestly made me want to give him a prescription for blood pressure medicine because he has one hell of a temper. Throughout the entire novel, Foaly honestly made me want to be his best friend. He was pretty much my idol in this book. The only time I found myself conflicted in this novel was with Butler, because his duties kept him bound from holding to his moral standards, and that broke my heart. I truly appreciate the experiences I had with each of these characters.

I gave this book a PG-10 rating because I really don’t think some of the material is appropriate for readers under the age of 10-years-old. Between the violence, and the minor language, I personally wouldn’t want my eight-year-old to read it. A novel about good vs. evil, overcoming the odds, and a war between The People and the Fae, this book was genuinely good read.

Favorite Quotes:

“Confidence is ignorance,” advised the centaur. “If you’re feeling cocky, it’s because there’s something you don’t know.” – Foaly

“Passion was the enemy of efficiency.” – Butler

“If I win, I’m a prodigy. If I lose, then I’m crazy. That’s the way history is written.”                 – Artemis Fowl

“I’m right there with you, darlin’. Unless you step on a landmine, in which case I’m way back in the Operations Room.” – Foaly

“Hit that back-stabber where it hurts, right in the ambition.” – Foaly